I recently had the pleasure of chatting with Neil Stephen, Founder of This is Marketing and one half of an Entrepreneurial Couple. It was during the recent Masterclass, Mixing Love and Business: Crafting a Recipe for Success, that he introduced me to his “Montebello Rule”.
We were talking about the importance of work/life balance, especially when it comes to separating your roles at the office from your roles at home. Being part of a couple who owns a company together, these are unique challenges – and figuring out and setting these boundaries are super important for making all parts of your life work together.
This is where Neil’s “Montebello Rule” comes in – the rule that establishes when the work switch is turned off and the family switch is fully activated. In his case, this rule is activated by a physical location – the sign that indicates they are entering their subdivision. Neil and his wife/business partner use this sign to stop all work talk. It doesn’t mean that they don’t do work at home, but it does mean that they are more deliberate about the when and how they are working from home. This is how Neil ensures that work doesn’t overwhelm home life.
Do you have a “Montebello Rule” – or would you like to establish one? For my husband and I, we have a shared philosophy on the importance of time without work. We call it Free Days. If we are on a Free Day and one of us brings up something business-related – the other can call it out. Are we on a free day or not? This is when the negotiations can begin – if yes, the matter is dropped, but sometimes, it might be necessary to step back into our work roles. When this happens, we do what needs to be done and then shift back into our Free Day
Here are some steps you could take to set up your own boundaries.
Step 1: Identify Your Priorities
The first step to setting boundaries between life and work is identifying your priorities. Make a list of your most important personal and professional goals. Once you have identified your priorities, you can begin to make decisions about how you allocate your time and energy.
Step 2: Set Clear Expectations
It is essential to set clear expectations with your partner about your work and personal life. Make sure to communicate openly and honestly about your goals and boundaries. It is also important to set boundaries with clients and employees. This can include establishing specific work hours, avoiding after-hours work calls, and setting realistic deadlines.
Step 3: Create a Schedule
Creating a schedule is a crucial step in maintaining a work-life balance. You and your partner should create a schedule that outlines your work hours, personal time, and family time. This schedule can be adjusted as needed, but having a clear plan in place will help you manage your time more effectively.
Step 4: Name it
Establishing some shared language to gently remind each other when a boundary has been crossed is essential. This can make it fun and become a great shortcut. It could be like Neil and his wife, a physical location, like me and my husband, a “code word”, or something completely different. The important part is that whatever you choose works for both you and your partner.
Step 5: Learn to Say No
As an entrepreneur, it can be challenging to say no to new opportunities. However, it is important to set realistic goals and learn to say no when necessary. This will help you avoid overcommitting yourself and sacrificing your personal life.
Step 7: Review and Adjust
Finally, it is essential to regularly review and adjust your boundaries. As your business and personal lives evolve (for example, your business expands, your kids get older and need less of your full-time attention, or grandchildren start coming into the picture), your priorities and needs may change. It is important to be flexible and adjust your boundaries as needed to maintain a healthy work-life balance.
In conclusion, setting boundaries between life and work is essential for Entrepreneurial Couples to maintain a successful business and a happy personal life. By crafting your own “Montebello Rule”, Entrepreneurial Couples can create a successful and fulfilling life together.
Want to hear the whole “Montebello Rule” story? You should check out the Master Class to learn more about how this rule works for Neil. It is a great narrative that involves mailboxes and the Yukon. Here is a link to the replay